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Teenagers are killing badgers for TikTok clout, charities warn

Badger caught red-handed breaking into house through cat flap

There’s a worrying trend emerging on TikTok which is causing a spike in crimes against badgers and other animals, according to charities.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) has warned against numbers of social media users posting themselves with wildlife killing trophies.

It comes after lockdown saw high levels of reported wildlife crimes, with numbers rising from 1,056 in 2019 to 1,401 in 2020.

The report from the WCL used data from groups including the RSPB, WWF UK, Plantlife and the League Against Cruel Sports and it stated that crimes remained at record levels in 2021.

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The report also focused on the role the internet and social media has played in making it easier to “network, organise, and normalise badger crime”.

One of the most high-profile cases featured a gang of teenage boys in Burnley who filmed themselves committing hundreds of wildlife crimes, using dogs to kill animals ranging from badgers to deer.

There were record numbers of wildlife crimes reported in 2021iStock

“Wildlife crime soared during the pandemic and remained at record levels this year,” the CEO of WCL, Dr Richard Benwell, said.

“Progress on convictions is positive, and we welcome DEFRA’s efforts to stiffen sentencing, but overall that is of little use while the rate of successful prosecutions remains so low. The snapshot in our report is likely to be a significant under-estimate of all kinds of wildlife offences.

“To get to grips with these cruel crimes, the Home Office should make wildlife crime notifiable, to help target resources and action to deal with hotspots of criminality.”

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